The role of streaming in CLIL: a critical examination

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Submission Summary
The paper outlines the potential effects of streaming on inequity in the context of bilingual education in Madrid. The study presents ethnographic data gathered mainly from interviews with key stakeholders on students’ transition from primary to secondary and their placement in one of two CLIL strands (High- or Low-Exposure).
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For more than a decade, the region of Madrid has experienced the expansion of Spanish/English bilingual education - along with Content and Language integrated Learning (CLIL) as its main feature -, promoted by a wide-scale initiative on behalf of the local authorities. From the onset, one of the main goals of bilingual education has been to ensure equal opportunities for all students regardless of their social and economic background. This view, however, has become a subject of debate in light of the potential segregating consequences tied to the streaming of students in two strands (High- and Low-Exposure) in the transition from primary to secondary.

The paper presents ethnographic data gathered from interviews with key stakeholders (school leaders, teachers, students and families), with a focus on the 'stance' (Du Bois, 2007) taken by these participants with respect to: (1) the role of an external English language test in designating placement decisions in either the High- or Low-Exposure CLIL strand; (2) the value ascribed to these strands; and (3) the representation of students attending these strands. These perspectives will be crossed with classroom interactional data in secondary Science classrooms across both CLIL strands.

Data analysis will shed light on how linguistic proficiency (i.e. as decided by the external English language test) secures the status of those students who experience a higher degree of exposure or intensity in CLIL. Circulating discourses in the educational community point to a perceived academic and linguistic 'added value' of the High-Exposure strand, with students attending this strand being represented as the 'high achievers'. Moreover, analysis of pedagogical practices across strands will consider whether High-Exposure students are more likely to engage in practices of social distinction (Bourdieu, 1991). The overlapping of these dimensions should lead to a critical awareness of the possible inequity effects of streaming in CLIL.
Universidad Complutense de Madrid

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